top of page

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is an injury that affects how the brain works. TBI is a major cause of death and disability in the United States. Anyone can experience a TBI, but data suggest that some groups are at greater risk for getting a TBI or having worse health outcomes after the injury. About 176 Americans died from TBI-related injury each day in 2020. There were more than 223,000 TBI-related hospitalizations in 2019 and about 15% of all U.S. high-school students self-reported one or more sports or recreation-related concussions within the preceding 12 months.


Click here to learn facts about Traumatic Brain Injury.


Resources for Healthcare Providers. 

Mild TBI and Concussion

Most TBIs that occur each year are mild TBIs or concussions. A mild TBI or concussion is caused by:

  • A bump, blow, or jolt to the head or

  • By a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. 

This sudden movement can cause: 

  • The brain to bounce around or twist in the skull 

  • Chemical changes in the brain 

  • Stretching and damaging brain cells.

Click here to learn more about Mild TBI and Concussion  

Moderate and Severe TBI

 A moderate or severe TBI is caused by bumped, blow, or jolt to the head or by a penetrating injury (such as from a gunshot) to the head. In the United States, severe TBIs are linked to thousands of deaths each year

For those who survive, a moderate or severe TBI may lead to long-term or life-long health problems that may affect all aspects of a person's life. these health problems have been described as being similar to the effects of a chronic disease.

Click here to learn more Moderate and Severe TBI


Where to Get Help

There are many organizations who can help you and your family as you recover from a brain injury. Some groups offer support for people living with TBI, their family caregivers, and loved ones. 


Click here to learn more about help/support groups available. 


 year, at least 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury resulting in more than 4,000 individuals sustaining a TBI on a daily basis. One million people are treated and released annually from hospital emergency rooms after sustaining a brain injury. Brain injury claims more than 50,000 lives and leaves more than 80,000 individuals with lifelong disabilities each year. The silent epidemic of brain injury is illustrated best by a 1999 statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - there currently are at least 5.3 million Americans living with a disability as a result of brain injury.

  • Every 21 seconds a brain injury occurs in the United States.

  • Approximately 5.3 million Americans (2% of US population) live with disabilities from brain injuries.

  • Each year ONE MILLION people are treated and released from emergency rooms and 50,000 people die.

  • The cost of traumatic brain injury, in the United States, exceeds $48 BILLION annually.

  • Brain injuries are the #1 killer of persons under the age of 44. They kill more Americans under the age of 34 than all diseases combined.

Who is at risk for a TBI?

Males are about 1.5 times as likely as females to sustain a TBI. The two age groups at highest risk for TBI are 0 to 4 year olds and 15 to 19 year olds. Certain military duties (e.g., paratrooper) increase the risk of sustaining a TBI. African Americans have the highest death rate from TBI.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI.

According to one study, about 40% of those hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were:

  • Improving memory and problem solving;

  • Managing stress and emotional upsets;

  • Controlling one's temper; and

  • Improving one's job skills.

TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, and/or emotions. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.

TBI Data

  • There were approximately 223,135 TBI-related hospitalizations in 2019 and 64,362 TBI-related deaths in 2020.

  • This represents more than 611 TBI-related hospitalizations and 176 TBI-related deaths per day.

  • These estimates do not include the many TBIs that are only treated in the emergency department, primary care, urgent care or those that go untreated. 

  • People age 75 years and older had the highest numbers and rates of TBI-related hospitalizations and death. This age group accounts for about 32% of TBI-related hospitalizations and 28% of TBI-related deaths.  

  • Males were nearly two times more likely to be hospitalized (79.9 age-adjusted rate versus 43.7) and three times more likely to die from a TBI than females (28.3 versus 8.4)

  • Children (birth to 17 years) had 16,070 TBI-related hospitalizations in 2019 and 2,774 TBI-related deaths in 2020.

bottom of page